Real Fit for Real Life
Featuring everything & anything to help you & your family live a fit, full, delicious, joyful life
For those of you new to my blog/Instagram/YouTube channel (yes, I've covered all the bases for helping everyone everywhere recover from their dieting addictions!), I wanted to use this entry to explain why I chose the name Real Fit for Real Life.
And to explain the why, I must first give my story, which honestly could be any woman's story, perhaps even your story, more or less. The story begins early, say when I was ten. Suddenly I grew this little Winnie the Pooh belly. It was the 1980s. I lived off of cereal, Pop Tarts, Kraft Mac & cheese, ravioli from a can. "Clean eating" hadn't yet been invented or coined as far as I was concerned. Sure, we ate salad often, iceberg lettuce doused in Italian dressing. When we ate out, we headed to Pizza Hut or a buffet-style steak house. Farm-to-table hadn't been invented either, at least not for middle class families. I took dance classes, rode bikes with friends, ran around in gym class. Still, I had my belly. It didn't fit with my stick skinny arms and legs, and I grew self-conscious of it, especially when one time at dance class, my dance teacher pointed it out to me & the entire class. Geez. Thanks, lady. I didn't know I had that roll there, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I was ten. And I already disliked my body.
Fast forward to college. 1990s and all things Fat Free were the rage. We knew nothing about sugar. Just fat. And fat was the enemy. I had roommates who were active, so we'd go running together or hit the weight room. I had no car & walked everywhere. Finally, I slimmed down. My belly got a bit flatter, though still there, but I felt more confident in my body. I also found fitness as my new hobby!
I got married at age 20, 1996. Because I was in love. And that's what you did at BYU in good ol' Utah. You married young so you could a.) do the dirty legally, and b.) start multiplying & replenishing the earth. I was eager for A. But my emetophobia (fear of vomiting) kept me from B for a good four years.
And thus began the baby-making years & the true beginnings of yo-yo dieting. I still hadn't learned proper nutrition, & we were poor students. We lived off of Pasta-Roni. I got smarter and ate healthier with each pregnancy, but still, I easily gained 40-45 lbs each pregnancy. What I learned the hard way is that if it takes 9 months to gain, it takes at least that to lose it. Unless you're one of those disgusting girls we hate who zips up her size 4 jeans to leave the hospital.
My dieting post-pregnancy got smarter each time, too. After the first, I resorted to severe calorie restriction but knew nothing about macros or quality food. I ate whole grain cereal with skim milk for breakfast, 11 pretzels & a container of sugary low-fat yogurt for lunch, & whatever for dinner. I lost weight, but still wasn't lean.
After baby 2, I lost weight faster. First, because I was so busy figuring out two kids that I sometimes didn't eat. Second, because I tried the fad at the time, Metabolife, a very popular ergogenic aid that eventually got yanked from shelves after users began suffering heart palpitations & heart attacks! Yep. I got down to a size 4, the smallest I'd ever been, because I cheated. I was so desperate to lose the baby weight, I ignored common sense & swallowed the pill of ignorance, willing to try anything. When I began experiencing my own chest pains, I quit. When the news hit of how horrible Metabolife was, I wondered how much damage I had wreaked upon my body! I vowed to stay away from ergogenic aids ever after. I also never knew what was more effective-- that pill, or my own healthier eating & exercise.
After baby three, I got my cholesterol tested & got the frantic call from the the doctor's office once my results were in. 268?! They couldn't believe someone apparently healthy and young could be so high. I explained it ran in my family-- my mom had hit the 400s before gastric bypass surgery (she and two of her sisters had it done-- when I say I genetically gain, I'm NOT lying!) But the doc didn't care if 268 was stellar in my family. He put me on a strict old-school low-cholesterol diet. No more egg yolk, cheese, red meat, or butter. Lots of oatmeal. I stuck to it religiously, not wanting to go on drugs. And I lost the baby weight & then some! I shrunk down to a size 2 & at one point, even dipped below 120 lbs! I became the new teeny me. And I loved it. I had no butt. And I utterly lost my boobs. But I liked being tiny. That was such a novelty for me.
Once I trained for my first marathon, I began to bulk up (I see now that was nothing!), & I didn't like it. I hit 126 & thought I needed to go on a diet again. I decided to turn to a friend in the bodybuilding industry to give me guidance. She introduced me to the world of nutrition science & macronutrients. She put me on a plan that was ruled by numbers. I had to consume 50% protein, 35% carbs, 15% fat. I could only eat 11 grams of sugar with breakfast & none the rest of the day. I had to drink a gallon of water a day & take supplements. Initially, I was excited! I researched & took notes & felt like I was learning more about food & its properties. I spent days crunching the numbers & soon realized how difficult it would be to attain these macros! I had to cut bread out completely-- it wouldn't fit my macros. I had to cut certain fruits out of my diet because the sugar content was too high. I had to eat more chicken, turkey, fish, & hard-boiled egg whites than I'd consumed in my entire life! But I was dutiful & consummate. I obeyed.
And I began to get sudden sharp pains in my right abdomen, so stabbing that the first time, I thought I'd gotten stung by a bee! One day it was so severe, my hubby rushed me to the urgent care. I've found urgent care to be useless for me in most experiences, & this was another. At least they ruled out heart attack & appendicitis, but they had no answers for what it was. (Years later I would conclude with the help of a female hormone specialist that it was gall bladder attacks from the sudden change in diet & drastic increase in protein.) The pains eventually stopped when my body adjusted to the new diet, probably a span of a couple months.
The strict diet worked. I got back down to my magical 120, only this time with a bit more muscle. I also lost even more boobage. The empty sacs that remained were disheartening, so much so that I wouldn't let my hubby near them. He loved me as I was, but I didn't love me as I was. So he said if I really, really needed it, I could pursue plastic surgery options. And so I did.
Once I had my chest back, and I had survived that 6-week high protein diet, I approached my friend again and asked her if she thought I could compete even though I had stretch marks. She encouraged me to try, and thus began my first meal plan.
It involved following an exact outline of 6 meals a day, the same meals every day for 4 weeks straight, with one cheat meal a week. I bought my first food scale and learned how very little 2 oz of chicken really is! I ate broccoli for breakfast, exorbitant amounts of it, raw. With a side of hummus & hard-boiled egg whites. I made weird protein shakes that made no sense & tasted just as senseless. I looked forward to new meal plans just for a change, even if the new plan was worse than the previous one!
I also changed at a deeper level without noticing. A sense of superiority grew, knowing that my willpower was greater than everyone else's. But also a sense of jealousy and anger, that I had to sacrifice so much & work so hard for something others just had-- leanness. On the other hand, I gained confidence. Because I'd never done anything so difficult. Even running a marathon seemed easier than this. I also started seeing results, which led to a great sense of satisfaction. I also had many self-doubts. So it was a bizarre juxtaposition of feeling better, and worse, about myself than ever.
Despite achieving a leanness I had never before experienced, I didn't place in the two competitions I had registered for. It was upsetting because the field for one placed 5 of 7 girls! Not gonna lie, I'm a horrible loser. I stomped backstage, gathered my oil & tanner & 5-inch hussy heels & left as soon as I possibly could. Why had I sacrificed chocolate and bread and joy to feel so absolutely horrible about myself in public??
And yet, when I turned 35 and realized I could now compete in the Masters division, I decided to try again, this time on my own. I wanted to take control of my meal plans. I did my own research and wanted to create more enjoyable meal plans, ones I could stick to better, still meet my macros, but still achieve leanness & muscularity. I practiced posing more this time. I'd get a cuter suit. I'd have a better experience.
I showed up to compete in the Masters, & I was the only one. I thought, "Sweet! I get a trophy automatically!" But no. They cut the category. Instead I was simply in the general category, next to all the 20-somethings. I knew I didn't stand a chance but decided to just have fun. And it was okay. And it made me want to try again.
So I did one more. This time the masters category was so big, I knew I didn't stand a chance. My only hope was my height category which only had 5 girls, 3 of whom would place. I felt confident for once! My hair was amazing and all mine-- no extensions or wigs like other girls. My posing was stronger & not gimmicky. Sure, I had stretch marks, but my legs were the best up there! I had to place!
But no. Again, failure. Part of me thinks it's politics. I had no coach. I had no connections. I tried to compete on a budget. I thought it would be enough. It wasn't. Finally my husband, who had been as supportive as possible, asked me to quit competing. He saw what it was doing to me.
Between each competition, I immediately gained back a lot of the weight. I had difficulty transitioning to a normal, healthy off-season diet. I would eat perfectly all week only to cheat all weekend like a madwoman. My metabolism didn't know which way was up. I hated what I saw in the mirror and on the scale. I began to steadily see my weight creep into the 130s, & I was mortified.
I decided I'd try to compete one more time, but this time in figure. I figured I was better at gaining muscle. And I wanted to be stronger. And I knew figure girls got more calories. I started 18 weeks out because I wanted to do it right, & I returned to my trainer. This time she alternated the meal plans so that I could follow one weeks 1/3/5 & another weeks 2/4. Then we'd switch. The meals were more satisfying, & she worked harder to make sure I got foods I liked. It was going well. Until my back went out. And went out again. And life got stressful. And I just couldn't do it any longer. I had already started posing practices! But I made the choice to quit. It was so hard for me to not follow through on a goal. But I had to prioritize, and there were more important issues facing me at that time.
We took a job offer that moved us to CT... Of course, this story is in my first post. Blah blah blah, I gained more weight, hated myself, & discovered self-love, intuitive eating, and being Real Fit for Real Life. Long story short, or rather less long, I finally decided to stop dieting and start living. I chose self-love over self-hate. I chose a new attitude. Not necessarily new actions, but a new mindset for my actions. No longer would my every move be about a desired physique! It would simply be for the joy of it. I would eat what my body needed without judgment. I would exercise because I love it, with no regard for an aesthetic outcome, but rather for an improved quality of mobility, strength, flexibility, power, and mood. I didn't stop exercising and eating well-- I just altered my motivations & mindset. If I needed a glass of wine on a Wednesday, so be it. If a friend invited me to a weekday lunch, I didn't have to count that as a "cheat meal"-- it was just a meal. I no longer needed to track all my macronutrients in an app or stand on the scale every day or tape measure my waist and thighs. I was finally learning how to be a part of the rest of civilization! It was an enlightenment!
As a personal trainer, this epiphany went against everything I'd been teaching clients for years! At first, I was confused. I wasn't sure how to approach my plans for clients. But then I began to realize, this is a journey. I have a strong knowledge of healthy nutrition & exercise. So for me, the problem was diet and measurement obsession. But for others, they may still need the first stage, and that's education-- learning and creating habits of good eating and exercise/daily movement. There is a time and place for tracking and measuring-- that is all part of self-education. But then we MUST progress! This is not a stage to remain at! This is not a way of life! Babies can't keep crawling-- they must eventually get up on two feet and learn to walk. And then skip and run and dance! This is my new method of learning to be Real Fit for Real Life. I determine where a client is, then figure out the best path to getting to that point where he/she can eat intuitively, has a desire for exercise and activity, and achieves a body that brings confidence and a life of joy. Because a life of self-hatred is no kind of life. It's unacceptable. I'm angry at myself for accepting it for so long!
Life is too short. When I look back at these photos and remember how I felt about myself, all those negative emotions, and for what?! I looked fine. Today I'm probably at my "heaviest" but I feel my very best. I'm happy. I'm strong. I'm fit. I don't need to be shredded. I don't need to be stick thin. I need to be joyful, and I need to live life. That's what I want to give clients-- strength, confidence, joy, and self-love.
This wondrous hike actually allows you to explore both Hemlock Hills & Pine Mountain-- honestly, this was a bit accidental, but I find the best journeys are often those unplanned ;) My original goal was to find the high point with the lookout, which I had been told was off of Pine Mountain Road. The day was foggy & cloudy, so I knew I wouldn't get the best view, but at least I could scope out the hike before bringing the kids next time. (It's always nice when I'm not lying to them, "We're almost there-- it's not that steep!" when really I have no idea! We moms are notorious liars.)
So I found the small parking area up Pine Mountain Road, and when I say small, I mean small. I'm lucky no one else was there that day. There are no facilities either, so be sure to potty first! (Which I did, but I still had to relieve my full bladder in the woods, another reason I was grateful for no other hikers around! It's tough to be a girl.) Now, here's where I went wrong but oh-so-right: I took the obvious trailhead. The one right in front of me next to the big sign.
The trailhead, by the way, is stunning. Not all hikes are gorgeous right out the gate, but this one was. It's the yellow trail and it begins with a very gentle downward slope. On a quiet fall morning you can hear the echoes of acorns dropping like mini cannonballs. Don't take it personally-- I had to convince myself there were no maniacally-laughing squirrels up in the treetops just hurling acorns at me. I knew the woods wanted me there. So I continued.
Right at the start you will see some beautiful rock formations and curlicue trees, and immediately, you will know this hike is special. It is one you will want to return to again and again-- magical and mysterious. Movies should be made here. Seriously.
At .22 you'll arrive at a little wooden bridge-- stand here & listen. It is otherworldly. If you disagree, you have lived in CT far too long & take it for granted. Open your eyes and ears a little more, & you will recognize the fairy-tale-likeness of this spot. I have added it to my Favorite Spots on the Planet List.
At .32 you'll have to traverse large boulders! Be careful! Adventurous kids will love this part, but be sure they are cautious. Also, while dogs are allowed here, if your dog tends to be a puller (like mine), I'd leave him/her home, simply because dogs are more agile than we are & forget that a 2-footed clutz is behind the leash! On the other hand, pullers are great to have on steep climbs ;) And a steep climb is upon you at this point of the hike!
Once you arrive at the blue-yellow fork, stay on yellow. Also keep your eyes on those trail markers-- they can be spaced far apart. At .5, it gets swampy-looking. In the summer, I'd be sure to have generous amounts of bug-spray on. It's not swampy for long, as you arrive to what almost looks like a landscaped set of stepping stones. At .64, you have the option to go left onto yellow-blue toward Lake Windwing or go straight onto Blue. But for this hike, turn around at this point, because you still have the grand finale to get to, and that's at Pine Mountain!
I actually did go down both trails for a bit before I realized I was heading into a much longer hike than I anticipated that day. If you are hiking without kids, you should definitely explore these longer trails. The blue trail will eventually take you towards Miry Brook, where you could hop on the orange to the parking lot on Ned's Mountain. Had I continued on the yellow-blue (the online trail map has this as a brownish orange line, very confusing to a girl alone in the woods!) I would have ended up down by Lake Windwing on the first Hemlock Hills hike I blogged about! See, I'm beginning to get my bearings & see how all these trails and parks connect! But the internet was quite confusing.
Anywho, go back, staying on the yellow trail. If you're lucky like I was, you'll run into James & Ray, mountain bikers who I coincidentally ran into also on last week's Farrington hike! Great minds think alike I suppose. They were the ones to kindly tell me I had missed my intended trailhead! I asked how long the hike was to the looking point, and they said I could do it in 10 minutes. So once I made the return trip to my car, I dropped off my backpack, retrieved necessary provisions for being a girl in the woods who has to pee very badly, and crossed the street, where right behind my van was the trailhead I had come for! The true trailhead was a bit down the road with a wood sign, but I took what was closest and was also clearly a trail, though it had no marking. So it'll be a bit before you see the official yellow trail markings.
Luckily the mountain bikers were right-- the Pine Mtn. Lookout (also known as the Ives' Cottage location, though no cottage exists there & now I want to know the history here) was not too far. But it is a very good climb! Be patient if you have small hikers with short legs-- this is a sweat-inducing hike. But when you tell them it isn't that far, you are not lying ;) This hike isn't nearly as pretty as the Hemlock Hills, but the view is spectacular once you arrive! Rest here, take a lot of photos. I've heard this is one of the highest points in Ridgefield-- it's definitely the best vista I've found so far. On a clear day, you can see the Long Island Sound. But I didn't get a clear day. Still, it was incredible to be above the treetops. I can't wait to return when the leaves change color even more!
Had I only done this hike, I would've continued along the yellow to see the chimney ruin and do the loop. There are red trails that connect to this as well, which lead to Bennett's pond or even Wooster Mountain State Park. I love the infinite possibilities of these trails so close to home! Because these trails all connect, there can be a lot of confusion as to trail names. This Pine Mountain hike has also been called Bennett's Pond because it eventually connects there. However, it is pretty far from the actual Bennett's Pond & Bennett's is another hike (off Bennett's Road) that I have yet to blog about that I did with the kiddos. It wasn't my favorite, but it's worth exploring.
For this hike, the lookout is your summit, then you will return down. In total, this Pine Mountain portion is just .9, so add that to the Hemlock Hills portion (about 1.3), and that gives you a perfect 2.2 mile hike. Because you'll want to take a lot of photos and give your kiddos some breaks on that climb, plan for 1.5-2 hours. This really is my favorite so far!
As always, wear good athletic shoes, bug spray, and pack plenty of water & snacks! It may be wise to bring hiking poles for the steep downhill stretches, but they're not mandatory. Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments!
I say new blog, because I've blogged before. Like pretty much every bikini/figure competitor out there, I blogged about the experience. The weeks leading up. How I felt on my meal plans. What the competition was like. Why I did it. What I never blogged about was WHY I gave it up, the bodybuilding competition scene. I only did 4 bikini competitions, never placing, then attempted to train for a figure competition before life got so crazy & stressed that I had a breakdown and made the difficult decision to quit an endeavor that I had already begun and invested in.
I struggled with severe lower back issues for months, later to learn from X-rays that I had degenerative discs in my L4-L5. A severe episode would land me on the floor for a week! I'd have to get subs for my classes, pop some muscle relaxers, and wallow in self-pity. As a trainer who prides myself in body awareness and functional fitness, it was an embarrassment to be laid up like that. Besides the fact that not much is as frightening as that lightning zap of pain that suddenly and severely stabs you in the back quite literally! Only people who have experienced this understand the unique and terrifying sensation-- when I meet someone who completely gets it, I want to hug that person! Obviously, these episodes put a kink into my figure training schedule-- the last thing I could do was lift!
On top of that, we made some huge life changes. My husband accepted a job promotion that would move us to CT, thousands of miles away from what we now considered home. Utah. I said I'd never raise kids in Utah (it's a bit of a bubble), but once most of our extended family ended up there, and we ended up there, and we both had jobs going well there, I thought we were settled for good, that our moving days were far behind us. We'd been in Utah 11 years, the longest either of us had lived anywhere in our entire lives, me growing up a Navy brat & my hubby also moving often as a kid. Let's just say, the move was difficult. It was a tearful good-bye, and arriving to live in a hotel for 66 days with 3 kids and a dog in a hide-a-bed didn't make the transition any easier.
Basically, I had been working so hard to build muscle, then life got stressful (cortisol levels up!), and I needed a bit more wine than usual! So I gained weight. The weight I had said I would never ever gain again. We all know how difficult it is to lose weight after having babies! To be honest, mathematically speaking, I shouldn't have gained weight as rapidly as I did. I still worked out extremely hard when my back was in decent shape, & I ate well the majority of the time. But genetically, I'm a gainer, so it didn't take much.
I was a bit embarrassed applying for a fitness job in our new home state. I wanted to say, "I'm usually leaner! Picture me 5-10 lbs lighter-- that's the real me!" Luckily I had a great resume and landed a teaching job right away. It was my best stress relief, teaching classes. I was living in a hotel, schlepping 3 kids to 3 different schools every weekday, then lying in bed watching HGTV because there wasn't much else to do "at home"-- no chores, minimal cooking, no where to sit. I worked out. I went for a run or a hike. I did laundry with quarters. I drove.
When we finally got into our house, it was a massive project! My HGTV-watching served me well, because I was ready. I knew paint colors, walls I wanted to knock down, carpet I wanted to rip up. I got busy. So busy I hardly ate. You would think the weight just melted off. But it was slow progress. I began to get frustrated. I considered getting back on a meal plan, measuring every week, returning to that rigid lifestyle. My negative self-talk was at a peak. Of course, it had peaked before, every time I put weight back on after a competition. Even during the process of leaning out, because I wasn't leaning out fast enough. I began to realize, I'd been worrying about my physique for far too long. And I had been berating myself for years. And that instead of TRYING to lose weight, I should instead try to LOVE MYSELF where I was at. I had never attempted that before. I had always had a goal to reach, and while I believe having a goal is great, I was never fully present or content in my own skin because I was more in love with who I would be minus 5-10 lbs later. It was an incredibly sad epiphany.
So I changed my goal. Instead of going on yet another diet, I opted to go 30-days without standing on the scale and without saying (and trying not to even think the words), "I'm fat." "I wish my thighs were smaller." "I wish I was leaner." etc. And a miracle happened. In this 30 days of no eating rules, no weighing, no tape measuring, I leaned out some. The scale stayed roughly the same. Lo and behold, I did not gain 20 lbs by not plugging everything into myfitnesspal! I began to eat more intuitively. I had fewer cravings. I still chose to eat clean most days with plenty of veggies, fruit, & protein, but I didn't feel bad at all if I had a Prime Burger or some pizza (lots of good pizza places in town!) or a glass of wine or Ross's (bakery-cafe) chocolate chip bread pudding (which played a large role in our choice to move to Ridgefield, not gonna lie!) I didn't go crazy. I didn't binge. I didn't treat my weekends like the end of yummy eating for eternity (I did this often previously!) I just LIVED. It was shocking to me that there are probably a lot of people out there who live this way-- just LIVE. I wondered what had held me back from this wisdom for so long! But I'll save those ponderings for another post . . .
Basically, we worry way too much about things, that in the end, mean very little. For years, I worried constantly about leaning out, leaning out, leaning out (this means skinny but with muscle-- a rather difficult feat for most humans!) Which meant I worried about every bite I put in my mouth-- was it high enough grams of protein, low enough fat, best fiber, weigh exactly 3 ounces, and so on. I believed so passionately in properly fueling my body-- which is a good thing for health, energy, disease prevention-- but still, it was detracting from the act of living. It's a delicate line that separates living your passion and not really living. It comes down to this, and the answer depends on the individual:
If today was your last day, would you be happy with the priorities you made? Would you regret more that you ate that cookie or didn't eat that cookie? That you spent an extra hour at the gym, or in bed, or talking to a friend?
There isn't a right or wrong answer here-- there's just a right or less right for YOU-- what do YOU value most? I'd guess if you're dying of obesity-related disease, you'd regret eating the cookie, as well as a lot of other foods you probably shouldn't have shoveled in! But if you're super lean and have been depriving yourself for months, you may very well regret that you didn't enjoy one final cookie! We are each on our own journey and at different places in life. Figure out what your priorities are right now and stop worrying so much about everything else. This was tough for me, but as soon as I figured out that for me, attaining & maintaining a bikini body wasn't top priority, I began to finally love myself, live my life more fully, and be less frustrated with things beyond my control. This isn't giving up or giving in-- this is breaking through.
My goal as a personal trainer is to first, help clients establish healthy habits, but then, help them to LOVE THEMSELVES and get off the diet roller coaster! At some point, you have to learn how to LIVE. And constantly seeing yourself as a "work in progress" means you never appreciate and love where you are right NOW, in this moment. As soon as you learn to love yourself, you will let go of emotional eating, guilt-driven eating, and over-eating. And that is just truth.
So welcome to my blog about LIVING a real life. Being real fit, whatever that looks like in your own life. Seeking real joy. Creating real meals. And making your real fit life a family affair. I plan to post: Hike of the Week (kid-friendly), Menu Ideas, Fit-Philosophizing, and whatever else strikes my fancy or readers request ;)
As always, feel free to share.
This week's hike was actually solo for me, and it was nice-- nobody whined or asked, how much longer?? ;) But as I hiked, I did consider just how kid-friendly each trail was. So here goes . . .
Finding Farringtons Park (or Farrington Woods as the little wooden sign says) is a little tricky. It is located in Danbury, very close to the NY border-- in fact, at first I passed the entrance and had to U-turn, crossing the state line twice to get there! Basically, heading east on 202, look carefully for an obscure entrance that appears to be a private drive. In fact, you will have to drive past a few private properties on a gravel road before locating the parking lot on your left. It's small and has no restrooms, so make sure you've all pottied beforehand! There's a Starbucks nearby just in case ;) From my research, this park is still under construction, so they should be adding restrooms and more marked trails by Spring!
I will say right off the bat, this isn't my favorite hike I've done in the area, simply because it is so close to 84 and you can hear the traffic noise for much of this hike. That said, it had some pretty views that still make this a worthwhile hike, and some city-folk are comforted by the sound of traffic, knowing civilization is not far away! Also of note: this is a great site for mountain bikers! In fact, I felt it was geared more toward bikers than hikers, with several options of bike trails.
Hikers will want to start on the right of the sign, stay on the white trail. The initial stretch of trail is really pretty, flanked by ferns and tall marsh grasses. At the fork, go straight on the wider, rockier path. (I read that the trail is so wide because of decades of jeeping! So that's a plus for kids who don't like the woods to touch them at all while hiking-- very wide trails!) This is a gentle climb with some interesting old rock property lines. At the fork, take the red trail (about .27) This takes you onto the soft dirt trail and continues a gentle climb. It does begin to get steeper but not for too long. Veer left at the top around .73. You'll notice on the right the remains of a chimney, which I assume is all that remains of Isabelle Farrington's residence. I couldn't find much info on the history of the land, only that the city of Danbury purchased it in 2010 to turn it into a recreational haven, which in my opinion is always a great cause! Anywho, if you'd like to capture a pic of the chimney, you'll have to go off-trail, so be sure you have long socks & pants and always be mindful of where you are stepping! Also be aware of how best to get safely back to the trail.
Continue your hike, & at about .85 you will come to Sanford Pond, which is a very serene sight, especially in the fall-- the blue of the water & sky accented surrounded by green with accents of reds, oranges, and golds is just exquisite. Here is where you will finally lose the traffic noise, too. The trail by the pond wasn't yet marked, but you will notice bright pink and orange ribbons tied around trees, designating the bike paths. At this point, the trail fizzles out a bit currently. But having hit the 1 mile mark, I decided to backtrack and hike back in, for a nice one-hour hike.
On the way down, there are stretches where the rocky terrain can be sketchy. So with kids, hold hands or use hiking poles. Otherwise, it's an easy hike for the entire family & you can head to Trader Joe's after for some healthy treats :)
This past Monday, the kids had off school, & the weather was utterly perfect-- a crisp, cool fall morning, the first long-sleeve weather day of the season. So we ventured off to find Hemlock Hills, one of many hikes on my To Do List of hiking. I wanted to hit one of the high points of elevation while sticking to a do-able mileage for my kids (typically 1.5-2.5 miles for a one-hour hike total). So here are the details . . .
Drive toward Ridgebury Elementary School on Bennetts Farm Rd, then turn onto South Shore Dr. This will bring you to a baseball field, where you can park. Here is where this particular hike begins. As always, bug spray & sunscreen up, and be sure to pack enough water for all hikers, depending on heat/humidity.
Mother of 3. Fit-philosopher. Showing my kids how to be fit via living life to the max. Newbie photographer. Simplistic cook who shares easy, healthy meals. Lover of kid-friendly hikes & getting outdoors & unplugged.